I started a firestorm on Twitter last week. As Americans were mortified that another mass murder happened, this time on the streets of Dallas as police officers were ambushed, Americans watched in disbelief and anger while many Canadians shook their heads and rolled their eyes.
As someone who was born in this country I wasn’t raised with the fascination of guns. In fact, I don’t know anyone in Canada who owns one (aside from someone such as a police officer). So maybe I am naïve or somewhat ignorant about the American culture that involves firearms – as are the majority of Canadians, it seems.
So when the Dallas police tweeted a picture of a “suspect” on the street with a large gun strapped across his body and encouraged the public to help them find the guy, I, as a Canadian, chimed in.
“That’s quite the shoutout for him. Looks like an upstanding member of the community” said my tweet. Within minutes all hell broke loose. Hundreds of re-tweets led to my message spreading more and more. So too did the hate in the way of tweet attacks – mostly badly misspelled and grammatically incorrect.
Primarily I was called racist. Despite not mentioning colour of skin, ethnicity, religion or anything remotely about the man’s physical appearance aside from one major factor (at least to a Canadian): he was attending a “peaceful protest” with massive weaponry.
I was sworn at and threatened (four death threats in all) people were quick to jump on me saying that he was a great member of the community because he was carrying his weapon as he is legally allowed to do so in Texas. They were obviously missing the point that just because something is a law doesn’t make it right. But when pressed for specific examples of what I said that was racist, nobody was ever – not once – able to quote me and my so-called bigotry.
I noted to the mob that it is illegal to sip a beer three consecutive times while standing in Texas (true story) and asked if people agreed with that law and if they followed it but that was usually met with more insults and name calling. Once they were enraged there was no turning back, though they did remind me several times that I am white.
Discussing this incident with my neighbour she laughed and drew this conclusion: “Sometimes I don’t think they even know what they are angry about. They are just mad because they think they should be mad about something.”